Code of the District of Columbia

Chapter 3. Civil Asset Forfeiture.


§ 41–301. Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the term:

(1) “By type of property” means the 4 distinct types of property: real property, vehicles, currency, and other personal property.

(2) “Court” means the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

(3) “Currency” means cash, or the fair market value of seized property disposed of pursuant to § 41-303(e).

(4) “Forfeitable offense” means an alleged violation of District law that can give rise to forfeiture pursuant to the following provisions: § 7-2507.06a, § 8-905, § 22-902, § 22-1705, § 22-2723, § 48-905.02, § 50-1501.04, or § 50-2201.04b.

(5) “Indigent” means a person who is financially unable to give any bond or give a bond in the required amount.

(6) “Mayor” means the Mayor of the District of Columbia or the Mayor’s designee.

(7) “Owner” means a person with a legal ownership interest in the property subject to seizure or forfeiture.

(8) “Relative” means a spouse, partner, sibling, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, or the spouse, partner, or child thereof.

(9) “Sale proceeds” means all funds received by the District of Columbia as a result of the sale of seized property pursuant to § 41-303(e) or § 41-310.


(June 16, 2015, D.C. Law 20-278, § 101, 62 DCR 1920; Oct. 8, 2016, D.C. Law 21-155, § 608, 63 DCR 10143.)


§ 41–302. General provisions.

(a) Only property designated as forfeitable pursuant to a forfeitable offense shall be subject to forfeiture and may be forfeited only in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. Property that is contained within property subject to forfeiture does not automatically render that property subject to forfeiture.

(b) No property shall be subject to forfeiture by reason of an act or omission committed or omitted without the actual knowledge and consent of the owner, unless the owner was willfully blind to the knowledge of the act or omission.

(c) Except as provided in § 41-308, a conviction of a forfeitable offense shall not be required for the purpose of establishing that property is subject to forfeiture under this chapter.

(d) Property seized as evidence in a criminal case shall not be subject to this chapter while subject to evidentiary hold in a criminal case.


(June 16, 2015, D.C. Law 20-278, § 102, 62 DCR 1920.)


§ 41–303. Seizure; pre-seizure hearings for real property.

(a) Property subject to forfeiture under this chapter may be seized by the District:

(1) By judicial order; or

(2) Upon the District’s determination that there is probable cause to believe that the property is subject to forfeiture.

(b)(1) Property seized for forfeiture under this chapter is deemed to be in the custody of the District. When property is seized pursuant to this chapter, the District shall:

(A) Place the property in an area designated by the District for safe storage until disposition;

(B) Ensure that the seized property is inventoried, including providing a full description of all property seized and all property contained therein;

(C) Assign an individual property identification number to each specific item of property seized, including any additional property contained therein; and

(D) Maintain the property identification numbers and description of all items seized.

(2) For the purposes of this subsection, a sum of currency shall be deemed to be a single item of property.

(c) If the District retains possession of the property pending the outcome of the forfeiture proceedings in Court, the District is responsible for the following:

(1) The costs of storage; and

(2) Keeping the interest or rent earned by the property and distributing the interest or rent earned to the owner of the property if the property is not ultimately declared forfeited.

(d) When property is seized by a law enforcement officer, the officer shall give to the person from whom the property was seized a receipt that provides a description of the property seized.

(e)(1) If seized property is likely to perish, or be greatly reduced in value by its seizure, or the expense of keeping the property is disproportionate to its value, the District may dispose of the property.

(A) If, pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection, the District sells seized property, the sale proceeds shall become substitute property for the original seized property and shall be subject to forfeiture in accordance with the standards and procedures set forth in this chapter; provided, that determination of whether the property is subject to forfeiture shall be made based on the nature of the original seized property and not based on its current form of proceeds.

(B) If, pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection, the District discards seized property, the fair market value of the discarded property before its disposal shall become substitute property for the original seized property and shall be subject to forfeiture in accordance with the standards and procedures set forth in this chapter; provided, that determination of whether the property is subject to forfeiture shall be made based on the nature of the original seized property and not based on its current form of currency value.

(2) The District shall provide notice to the owner of seized property regarding its intent to dispose of the seized property in accordance with § 41-304.

(f)(1) The District may not seize real property for forfeiture unless, before the seizure, the owner of the property is afforded notice and an opportunity to be heard at a hearing requested by the District and conducted in accordance with § 41-306(f).

(2)(A) A hearing requested pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection need not be held if, before the hearing, the District reaches a written agreement with the owner as to conditions for the owner to retain the real property pending forfeiture proceedings.

(B) Permissible conditions are limited to the following:

(i) An agreement by the owner to prohibit certain individuals from using the real property;

(ii) An agreement by the owner to prohibit the use of the real property to facilitate illegal conduct;

(iii) An agreement by the owner that he or she will not intentionally destroy, substantially damage, dispose of, or transfer title to the property;

(iv) A requirement that the owner present proof of ownership, which the owner may prove by the presentation of the title to the property; and

(v) An agreement by the owner to maintain property insurance.

(C) If, before the hearing under paragraph (1) of this subsection, the District reaches an agreement with the owner under paragraph (2) of this subsection, the District shall immediately notify the Court that it withdraws its request for a hearing.

(3) Any decision reached at a hearing conducted pursuant to this subsection shall be appealable pursuant to § 41-306(k).

(4) If the District alleges that the owner has violated a condition to retain custody of the real property pending final forfeiture proceedings, the allegation shall be made and heard in accordance with § 41-306(l).


(June 16, 2015, D.C. Law 20-278, § 103, 62 DCR 1920.)


§ 41–304. Notice.

(a)(1)(A) Upon the seizure of any property by law enforcement, the District shall take all reasonable steps to identify the owner or owners of the seized property and provide the owner or owners with notice of the intent of the District to seek forfeiture of the property.

(B) The notice shall be in writing and shall be provided in person or by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested. If an owner is detained or otherwise in the custody of the government, the District shall provide notice to the owner where he or she is detained or in custody. The District shall also publish on its official website notice of the seizure.

(C) Notice provided in person shall not be valid unless:

(i) The owner signs a return receipt acknowledging acceptance of the notice; or

(ii) A representative of the District attests in a sworn document to personal knowledge that the owner received notice but refused to sign a return receipt.

(D) The District shall send or provide notice to the owner:

(i) Within 10 business days after the seizure, if the property is not subject to an evidentiary hold;

(ii) Within 10 business days after receiving written notice from the prosecutorial authority that the property will not be needed as evidence in a criminal case if the property was subject to an evidentiary hold for a case that was not charged by the prosecutorial authority after an arrest; or

(iii) Within 5 business days after receiving written notice from the prosecutorial authority that the property will not be needed as evidence in a criminal case if the property was subject to an evidentiary hold for a case that was charged by the prosecutorial authority after an arrest.

(2)(A) The written notice shall identify the property seized and the property identification number.

(B) For each item seized, the notice shall also include:

(i) Whether the item is immediately returnable to the owner;

(ii) Whether the District intends to seek forfeiture; and

(iii) Whether the District intends to dispose of the property or has disposed of the property pursuant to § 41-303(e).

(C) The notice shall explain:

(i) The process by which the owner may retrieve items deemed immediately returnable;

(ii) The legal basis upon which the District seeks forfeiture of the property, the time period within which the owner must file a claim of interest and intent to contest forfeiture in the seized property pursuant to § 41-305, and the consequence of an owner’s failure to file a claim of interest and intent to contest forfeiture within the time provided under § 41-305(c);

(iii) The process by which the owner may request interim release of the item pending forfeiture proceedings, and by which the District may seek to retain the property in the interim, including the expedited timing of the possible court hearing pursuant to § 41-306(c)(4);

(iv) The affirmative defenses available under § 41-308(f); and

(v) That the District cannot condition either the interim or permanent release of the owner’s property on a requirement that the owner communicate with any agent of the District or representative of law enforcement other than by submission of the form described in subparagraph (D) of this paragraph.

(D) The notice shall include a claim form which the owner may use to assert his or her interest in the seized property, his or her intent to contest forfeiture, and to request the interim release of property pending the final outcome of any forfeiture proceedings.

(E) The notice shall also include the name and contact information of the District official to whom the owner shall return the claim form and direct any other correspondence.

(b)(1) If the notice required by subsection (a)(1)(A) of this section is not sent or provided to the owner as required by subsection (a)(1)(D) of this section, the seized property shall be returned without conditions to the owner unless the District demonstrates good cause particular to the circumstances of the case for the delay in notification of the owner.

(2) Release of the property for failure to comply with notice requirements shall not prejudice the right of the District later to file a libel of information seeking forfeiture pursuant to § 41-307.


(June 16, 2015, D.C. Law 20-278, § 104, 62 DCR 1920.)


§ 41–305. Contesting forfeiture.

(a) An owner may contest the seizure and forfeiture of the property by filing a claim with the District stating his or her interest in the property and intent to contest forfeiture. When filing a claim, the owner may also request interim release of the property or a portion of the property. The owner may request interim release of the property or of a portion of the property at any time before the District files a libel of information under § 41-307.

(b)(1) For purposes of making a claim of interest and intent to contest forfeiture pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, the owner shall be required to assert his or her claim under penalty of perjury. Neither a notarized statement nor additional documentary proof shall be required to make a claim. The owner filing the form provided pursuant to § 41-304(a)(2)(D), when signed by the owner under penalty of perjury, shall suffice to make a claim of interest and intent under this section.

(2) A claim of interest and intent filed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section must be made within 90 days after the owner of the seized property receives notice of the seizure pursuant to § 41-304.

(c)(1) If the District has on file a return receipt or a sworn document by the District indicating that the owner has received notice as required by § 41-304 and the owner has not filed a claim under § 41-304 within 90 days after the receipt of the notice, the District does not need to file a libel of information as required by § 41-307, but shall determine pursuant to this chapter whether the property is forfeitable and determine whether the forfeiture is proportional to the seriousness of the violation of District law that gave rise to the forfeiture.

(2) If the District determines that the property is forfeitable, the District shall declare the property forfeited and shall dispose of the property in accordance with § 41-310.

(3) If the District determines that the seized property, or a portion of the seized property, is not forfeitable, the District shall return the property, or, if applicable, the portion of the property, to its owner as soon as practicable.

(d)(1) If the District does not have on file a return receipt or a sworn document by the District indicating that the owner has received notice as required by § 41-304 within 180 days after the seizure if the property was not subject to an evidentiary hold or within 180 days after receiving written notice from the prosecutorial authority that the property will not be needed as evidence in a criminal case if the property was subject to an evidentiary hold, the District shall not pursue forfeiture.

(2) If the District is precluded from pursuing forfeiture pursuant to this subsection, the custody of the property, notification, and release to the owner or disposition by the District of the seized property shall be pursuant to §§ 5-119.01 through 5-119.10 and §§ 5-119.12 through 5-119.19, and § 5-119.11.


(June 16, 2015, D.C. Law 20-278, § 105, 62 DCR 1920.)


§ 41–306. Post-seizure property retention hearing.

(a) The District shall not release property seized for forfeiture while it is being retained as evidence in a criminal case.

(b) Except as prohibited by subsection (a) of this section, the District may, at any time, authorize interim release of property for use by the owner pending the final outcome of forfeiture proceedings.

(c)(1) Except as prohibited by subsection (a) of this section, upon an owner’s request for interim release of the property, the District shall release the property to the owner without conditions pending the final outcome of a forfeiture proceeding or, if the District alleges compliance with the notice provisions of §  41-304(a), the District shall file a request for a hearing in accordance with paragraph (3) of this subsection seeking to retain possession of the property or to place conditions on the release of the property pending the final outcome of any forfeiture proceeding.

(2) Nothing in this subsection shall require the District to release a seized vehicle to its owner if the owner cannot demonstrate that the vehicle will be removed from the place at which it was stored by the District in a way that complies with District of Columbia law.

(3)(A) If the District intends to seek to retain possession of the property or to place conditions on the release of the property pending the final outcome of any forfeiture proceedings, the District shall file a request for a hearing with the Court within 5 business days after its receipt of the owner’s request for interim release or within 5 business days after receiving written notice from the prosecutorial authority that the property will not be needed as evidence in a criminal case, whichever is later. The District shall not file a request for a hearing while property is being retained as evidence in a criminal case.

(B) A hearing with the Court shall be held as soon as practicable but no later than:

(i) If the seized property includes currency, 5 business days after the District requests an interim release hearing if the owner attests that the seized funds are necessary to either assist the owner in securing counsel of choice in a pending criminal matter related to the seizure or to meet the basic necessities of life, including the purchase of food, payment of utilities, provision of shelter, transportation costs, support of the owner’s family, or operation of a lawful business;

(ii) If the seized property includes a motor vehicle, 5 business days after the District requests an interim release hearing; or

(iii) For all other property, 10 business days after the District requests an interim release hearing.

(C) Either party may request a continuance of the hearing of up to 5 business days.

(d)(1) A hearing requested pursuant to subsection (c) of this section need not be held if, before the hearing, the District reaches a written agreement with the owner as to conditions for interim release of the seized property. The District may not request any conditions for interim release if the District failed to provide notice as required by §  41-304(a)(1)(D), unless the District has demonstrated good cause under §  41-304(b)(1).

(2) Permissible interim release conditions are limited to the following:

(A) An agreement by the owner to prohibit certain individuals from using seized property;

(B) An agreement by the owner to prohibit the use of the seized property to facilitate illegal conduct;

(C) An agreement by the owner that he or she will not intentionally destroy, substantially damage, dispose of, or transfer title to the property;

(D) An agreement by the owner that he or she will deliver to the District the property subject to forfeiture if and when it is ultimately deemed forfeitable;

(E) If the owner is not indigent, the payment of a bond not to exceed 2.5% of the fair market value of the property, which for a vehicle shall be the bluebook value; and

(F) In the case of a vehicle:

(i) A requirement that the owner present proof of ownership, which the owner may prove by the presentation of the title to the vehicle; and

(ii) An agreement by the owner to maintain valid registration and insurance; or

(G) In the case of currency, an assignment of an interest in other property to the District to secure the fair market value of the property subject to forfeiture proceedings.

(3) If, before the hearing pursuant to subsection (c) of this section, the District reaches an agreement with the owner under subsection (d) of this section, the District shall immediately notify the Court that it withdraws its request for a hearing.

(e)(1) At the hearing, the Court shall determine if the District complied with the notice requirements of §  41-304 or had good cause particular to the circumstances of the case for failure to comply with §  41-304.

(2) If the Court concludes that the District did not comply with §  41-304, it shall deny the District’s motion to retain the property and shall order the property released to the owner without conditions pending the final outcome of any forfeiture proceedings.

(f)(1)(A) At the hearing, the burden shall be on the District to establish that the seized property is subject to forfeiture under §  41-302.

(B) If the property is real property, a motor vehicle, or currency totaling $1000 or less, the District must establish the property is subject to forfeiture by a preponderance of the evidence.

(C) For all other property, the District must establish the property is subject to forfeiture by probable cause.

(2) If the Court concludes that the District has failed to meet its burden under paragraph (1) of this subsection, it shall deny the District’s motion to retain the seized property and order the property shall be released to the owner without conditions pending the conclusion of any forfeiture proceedings.

(3)(A) If the Court concludes that the District has met its burden under paragraph (1) of this subsection, the Court shall consider whether there is any condition or combination of conditions, other than retention of seized property, that will reasonably protect the interests of the District pending the conclusion of the forfeiture proceeding and whether those interests outweigh any countervailing interests of the owner.

(B) If the Court concludes that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably protect the interests of the District pending the conclusion of the forfeiture proceedings and that those interests outweigh countervailing interests of the owner, the Court shall grant the District’s motion to retain the property pending the conclusion of any forfeiture proceedings.

(C) If the Court concludes that a condition or combination of conditions will reasonably protect the interests of the District pending the conclusion of the forfeiture proceeding and that those interests do not outweigh the countervailing interests of the owner, the Court shall deny the District’s motion and order the property released to the owner with any condition or combination of conditions necessary to protect the interests of the District pending the conclusion of the forfeiture proceeding, including:

(i) Any condition permitted by subsection (d) of this section; and

(ii) In the case of property other than real property and if the owner is not indigent, the payment of a bond not to exceed 5% of the fair market value of the property, which for a vehicle shall be the bluebook value.

(g)(1) If the owner establishes that there is probable cause that the seized currency is necessary to assist the owner in securing counsel in a pending criminal matter related to the seizure or to meet the basic necessities of life, including the purchase of food, payment of utilities, provision of shelter, transportation costs, support of the owner’s family, or operation of a lawful business, the portion of the currency necessary for demonstrated needs shall be returned.

(2) If the District retains possession of the currency or any portion of the currency pending disposition of the forfeiture case, the currency shall continue to be treated in accordance with § 23-532.

(h) If the Court orders interim release of seized property with conditions, the order shall specify the official to whom the owner must submit documentation to prove compliance with the conditions.

(i) The District shall refund to the owner the bond the owner paid as a condition of interim release of property pursuant to subsection (d)(2)(E) or subsection (f)(3)(C)(ii) of this section when:

(1) The property has been determined by the Court not to be forfeitable;

(2) The District has decided not to pursue forfeiture; or

(3) If the property is declared forfeited, the owner surrenders the property to the District.

(j) The Court shall issue an order at the conclusion of the hearing or as soon thereafter as practicable unless the parties consent to the delay.

(k)(1) An order granting or denying the District’s motion to retain the seized property is a final order for purposes of appeal.

(2) Upon motion of an appealing party, the Court may stay the effect of an order directing release of property pending appeal if the Court finds that:

(A) A substantial question is raised by the appeal;

(B) Irreparable harm is likely to occur to the moving party if the stay is not granted; and

(C) The hardship to the opposing party is outweighed by the threat of irreparable harm to the moving party.

(l)(1) If the District alleges that the owner has violated a condition of interim release, the District shall file a motion with the Court requesting a hearing for the owner to show cause why interim custody should not be revoked pending final forfeiture proceedings. If the condition the owner is alleged to have violated was imposed by agreement pursuant to subsection (d) of this section, the District shall file the motion in court at the time it files the libel of information pursuant to §  41-307.

(2) At the hearing, if the Court determines the owner violated a condition of interim release:

(A) The owner shall lose custody of the property pending final forfeiture proceedings; and

(B) Where the violation diminishes the value of the property, the owner shall be personally liable for diminished value if the property is ultimately deemed forfeitable; provided, that if the violation makes the property unavailable or entirely without value, the measure of the owner’s liability shall be the fair market value of the property.

(m) Nothing in this section shall preclude the owner from seeking any other relief provided by law or regulation.


(June 16, 2015, D.C. Law 20-278, § 106, 62 DCR 1920.)


§ 41–307. Libel of information.

(a) If the owner of a seized property makes a claim contesting the seizure pursuant to §  41-305, the District shall return the property to the owner or file a libel of information seeking forfeiture of the property in Court.

(b)(1) If the owner is not in possession of all of the seized property, the District shall file a libel of information not later than 60 days after the owner has made a claim pursuant to §  41-305.

(2) If the owner is in possession of all of the seized property, the District shall file a libel of information not later than 90 days after the owner has made a claim pursuant to §  41-305.

(3) The Court may grant an extension of the time limits set forth in paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection upon a showing of good cause particular to the circumstances of the case or upon agreement by the parties.

(c) The District shall include in the libel of information a declaration, and any supporting documentation, to establish that the libel of information has been filed in accordance with the requirements of subsection (b) of this section.

(d) A libel of information seeking forfeiture is barred if it is not filed in accordance with the timing requirements set forth in subsection (b) of this section.

(e) If the property the District seeks to forfeit is real property, the District shall file a notice of the proceeding with the Recorder of Deeds within 10 business days after the libel of information is filed. The notice shall include the legal description of the property and indicate that civil forfeiture is being sought. The Recorder of Deeds shall record the notice against the title of any real property for which civil forfeiture is being sought. Upon resolution of the forfeiture proceeding, the District shall file with the Recorder of Deeds the disposition of the civil forfeiture action within 10 business days after the disposition.


(June 16, 2015, D.C. Law 20-278, § 107, 62 DCR 1920.)


§ 41–308. Forfeiture proceeding.

(a) An in rem civil forfeiture matter may be brought by the District against specific property, personal or real, by the filing of a civil libel of information in accordance with §  41-307.

(b) A party to a forfeiture action has a right to trial by jury.

(c) If the trial has not commenced within 60 days after the filing of the libel of information, the owner may move the court for interim release of the property or of a portion of the property pending the final outcome of the forfeiture proceeding. The court shall schedule a hearing on the request as soon as practicable. The court shall conduct the hearing in accordance with §  41-306.

(d)(1)(A) The burden of proof shall be on the District to establish that the property is subject to forfeiture under §  41-302.

(B) The District shall establish that the property is subject to forfeiture by a preponderance of the evidence, except if the property is a motor vehicle or real property, the District shall establish that the property is subject to forfeiture by clear and convincing evidence.

(C) There shall be a rebuttable presumption that currency totaling $1000 or less was not used or intended to be used in furtherance of a forfeitable offense, are not the proceeds of a forfeitable offense, and therefore are not subject to forfeiture under §  41-302. The government may rebut this presumption with clear and convincing evidence.

(2) A forfeiture of property encumbered by a bona fide security interest is subject to the interest of the secured party if the secured party:

(A) Did not have actual knowledge of the offense giving rise to the forfeiture;

(B) Did not consent to the commission of that offense; and

(C) Was not willfully blind to the commission of that offense.

(3) When determining whether an owner was willfully blind to acts or omissions that subjected the property to forfeiture:

(A) A showing of negligence or mistake is insufficient to support a finding that the owner was willfully blind; and

(B) A person’s past criminal behavior shall not form the sole basis for an inference that the owner was willfully blind.

(4) If the property is the primary residence of the owner, in order for the property to be subject to forfeiture, the District must establish that an owner of the property was convicted of the crime giving rise to the forfeiture.

(e)(1) At any time after the filing of the libel of information, the Court, sua sponte or on motion of the owner, may determine whether the forfeiture is disproportional to the offense giving rise to the forfeiture.

(2) In determining whether the forfeiture is disproportional to the offense, the Court may not consider the value to the District of the property, but shall consider all relevant factors, including:

(A) The gravity of the forfeitable offense, including:

(i) The nature and duration of the forfeitable offense;

(ii) Any direct harm caused to other people as a result of the forfeitable offense;

(B) The fair market value of the property;

(C) The importance of the property to the owner, including the role of the property in the life of the owner or non-culpable members of the owner’s family;

(D) The degree to which the forfeitable property was integral to the performance of the forfeitable offense;

(E) Whether the primary use of the property was to commit or attempt to commit a forfeitable offense;

(F) The likelihood that the forfeitable property will be used again to commit similar illegal activity and the availability of other means for the District to address the illegality;

(G) The extent to which the owner of the forfeitable property participated in the forfeitable offense;

(H) The hardship caused by the forfeiture on the owner of the forfeitable property; and

(I) Any other criminal or civil penalties imposed on the owner of the forfeitable property for the same conduct.

(3) If the Court determines the forfeiture is disproportional to the offense giving rise to the forfeiture, the Court shall dismiss the libel of information. In the case of seized currency, the Court may dismiss the libel of information in total or as to the amount it determines to be disproportionate to the offense.

(f)(1) It shall be an affirmative defense to a forfeiture action that:

(A) The owner took reasonable action under the circumstances to prevent or stop the commission of the offense or the involvement of the property in the offense; or

(B) The owner did not take action to prevent or stop the commission of the offense or the property’s involvement in the offense because the owner reasonably believed to have done so would have placed the owner or a third party in physical danger.

(2) The owner must establish an affirmative defense in paragraph (1) of this subsection by a preponderance of the evidence.

(g)(1) If the owner acquired his or her interest in the property after the commission of the forfeitable offense and the new owner did not know or had no reason to know of the property’s forfeitability, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the property is not subject to forfeiture.

(2) The government may rebut the presumption in paragraph (1) of this subsection with clear and convincing evidence that the property was proceeds of the forfeitable offense and that the current owner did not provide fair consideration in exchange for his interest in the property.

(h) If the District withdraws a forfeiture action or if the Court finds that property is not subject to forfeiture or otherwise issues a dispositive ruling that results in the termination of the action without an order of forfeiture, all claims of custody or title to the property by the District shall be relinquished. The Court, unless the parties agree otherwise, shall:

(1) Order the property returned to the owner or released from any conditions immediately or, if not immediately feasible, as soon as practicable;

(2) If the District disposed of the property pursuant to §  41-303(e)(1), determine the fair market value of the property at the time it was seized and award to the owner that value; provided, that if the property was disposed of by sale and the amount for which that property was sold is greater than the determined fair market value, the greater amount shall be awarded to the owner; or

(3) If the court enters a partial order of forfeiture, make any other rulings consistent with this subsection in the interests of justice.

(i) Evidence that was obtained as a result of a violation of the Fourth or Fifth Amendment of the Constitution shall not be admissible.


(June 16, 2015, D.C. Law 20-278, § 108, 62 DCR 1920.)


§ 41–309. Return of property.

(a) Property that is returnable under this chapter shall be returned to the owner.

(b) The owner shall acknowledge receipt and possession of each item of returnable property by reference to the specific property identification number assigned to the item pursuant to §  41-303(b)(1)(C). No receipt of acknowledgement shall be valid until the owner has viewed the item and confirmed that it is the item seized and returnable and that any returnable items contained within the item are also present and being returned.

(c)(1) No later than 6 months after the property is returned to the owner, the owner of returned property may make a claim against the District for:

(A) Total loss of property caused by the intentional or negligent conduct of the District or its employees;

(B) Any damage caused by the intentional or grossly negligent conduct of the District or its employees; provided, that wear and tear, decay, corrosion, act or omission of a third party other than employee of the District, or act of God shall not be subject to this subparagraph; or

(C) In the case of property disposed of pursuant to §  41-303(e)(1), the difference between the sale proceeds or compensation for disposal and the fair market value of the property at the time of seizure.

(2) For the purposes of paragraph (1)(B) of this subsection, the term “grossly negligent” shall have the same meaning as the term “gross negligence” as defined in § 5-119.11.

(3) For the purposes of § 12-309, damages are sustained on the date the property is returned to the owner.

(d) When the owner acknowledges receipt and possession of returnable property pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, the District shall provide written explanation of the requirements, procedures, and deadlines to make a claim pursuant to subsection (c) of this section.


(June 16, 2015, D.C. Law 20-278, § 109, 62 DCR 1920.)


§ 41–310. Disposal of forfeited property.

(a) When property is declared forfeited pursuant to §  41-305(c) or §  41-308, the District shall:

(1) Sell property that is not required by law to be destroyed and that is not harmful to the public or dispose of the property in a manner consistent with District law or, consistent with §  41-313, return the property, or the sale proceeds, to the owner;

(2) Deposit in the General Fund of the District of Columbia any currency and any proceeds from the sale of property pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection; and

(3) Beginning October 1, 2018, deposit in the General Fund of the District of Columbia the currency and sale proceeds received by a District agency from any state or federal agency pursuant to a multiple-jurisdiction or shared forfeiture program.

(b) The law enforcement agency that seized property forfeited under this chapter may not retain the property for its own use or sell it directly or indirectly to an employee of the agency, to a relative of an employee, or to another law enforcement agency; provided, that nothing in this section shall prohibit an employee of the law enforcement agency or relative of an employee of the law enforcement agency from purchasing property offered for sale at a public auction.


(June 16, 2015, D.C. Law 20-278, § 110, 62 DCR 1920.)


§ 41–311. Prohibition on adoptive seizures.

Beginning October 1, 2018, the District shall not refer seized property to a federal agency seeking the adoption by the federal agency of the seized property. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit the federal government, or any of its agencies, from seeking federal forfeiture.


(June 16, 2015, D.C. Law 20-278, § 111, 62 DCR 1920.)


§ 41–312. Reporting requirements.

By January 1, 2016, and on an annual basis thereafter, the Metropolitan Police Department and the Office of the Attorney General shall file with the Council of the District of Columbia and publish on their websites a report providing the following information for the preceding year:

(1) The number of seizures and the number of forfeitures, by type of property seized;

(2) The total quantity of each type of property seized and of each type of property forfeited;

(3) The number of seizures and the number of forfeitures by type of asserted violation of District law that gave rise to the seizure or forfeiture;

(4) The number of libels of information that were filed under §  41-307, by outcome;

(5) The number of times the District exercised its authority pursuant to §  41-305(c) and determined the property to be forfeitable and the number of times the District determined the property was not forfeitable;

(6) The number of seizures where the District either did not file a libel of information pursuant to §  41-307 or withdrew a libel of information, excluding seizures where the District had the authority to determine forfeitures pursuant to §  41-305(c);

(7) The number of settlements reached between the District and an owner, pursuant to §  41-306(d);

(8) Amount of currency received from forfeiture listed separately according to the provision of the District of Columbia law that gave rise to the forfeiture;

(9) Gross and net proceeds received from forfeiture, listed separately according to the provision of District law giving rise to the forfeiture;

(10) By type of property, the number of seized items determined to be returnable for which the District does not have on file a receipt of return as required by §  41-309(b); and

(11) The total quantity of each type of property seized for forfeiture that the District treated as abandoned under §§  5-119.01 through 5-119.10 and §§  5-119.12 through 5-119.19, and §  5-119.11.


(June 16, 2015, D.C. Law 20-278, § 112, 62 DCR 1920.)


§ 41–313. Remission or mitigation.

(a) Whenever an owner files with the Mayor, either before or after the sale or disposition of property pursuant to §  41-310, a petition for remission or mitigation of the forfeiture, the Mayor shall consider the petition and, if the Mayor finds that mitigating circumstances so justify, shall remit or mitigate the forfeiture upon the terms and conditions as the Mayor deems reasonable.

(b) The Mayor shall consider as a mitigating circumstance whether the forfeiture of property was proportional to the seriousness of the asserted violation of District law that gave rise to forfeiture, considering the factors set forth in §  41-308(e)(2).


(June 16, 2015, D.C. Law 20-278, § 113, 62 DCR 1920.)


§ 41–314. Rule of lenity; construction.

(a) Any ambiguities in this chapter relating to the District taking property through forfeiture shall be resolved in favor of the owner.

(b) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit law enforcement from seizing and retaining property as evidence in a criminal case.


(June 16, 2015, D.C. Law 20-278, § 114, 62 DCR 1920.)


§ 41–315. Rules.

The Mayor, pursuant to subchapter I of Chapter 5 of Title 2 [§ 2-501 et seq.], may issue rules to implement the provisions of this chapter.


(June 16, 2015, D.C. Law 20-278, § 115, 62 DCR 1920.)